Bob Dylan’s electric guitar sold for nearly $1 million during an auction at Christie’s in New York. The 1964 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst was sold with its original leather strap and case. Although the pre-sale estimate was between $300,000 and $500,000, the guitar sold for $965,000 within six minutes — to an unknown bidder who was not present.
Dylan played the iconic guitar during the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. For many fans, the festival was a turning point in the artist’s career. As Dylan took the stage with the electric guitar, his fans were stunned. He performed his three-song set with a rock and roll band, highlighting his diversity as a musician.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the audience booed during Dylan’s performance. While some fans blamed the musician’s unexpected change in style, others blamed the overall sound quality during the set.
A Christie’s representative said the auction of Dylan’s guitar broke a record set in 2004. Eric Clapton’s Fender guitar, which was nicknamed “Blackie,” sold for $959,500.
In addition to the guitar, Christie’s also auctioned several pages of hand-written and typed lyrics, which were found inside the guitar case. As reported by The Guardian, the lyrics included “Darkness of Your Room,” “Absolutely Sweet Marie,” “Medicine Sunday,” “Jet Pilot,” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” The lyrics’ pre-sale values were estimated between $3000 and $30,000.
The guitar was missing for nearly 50 years after Bob Dylan forgot it on a private plane. The plane’s pilot, Vic Quinto, never returned the guitar and it remained in his family for decades.
In 2011, Peterson took the guitar to the PBS’ History Detectives. Several consultants verified the guitar’s authenticity.
Quinto’s daughter, Dawn Peterson, said her father tried to contact Dylan’s manager about the guitar, but he never received a response. Despite her claims, Peterson was eventually sued for return of the guitar, accessories, and lyrics. The case was settled out of court and the details were not disclosed.
Although Bob Dylan’s 1964 Stratocaster sold for nearly $1 million, similar guitars manufactured the same year sell for around $20,000.